The Night Circus

by

Erin Morgenstern

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Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter Character Analysis

Known publicly as Prospero the Enchanter, Hector Bowen is a magician who has made his living performing for audiences that do not understand that his magic is real, and not just a skillful illusion or sleight of hand. His fellow magician Mr. A.H. seems to look down on him for performing, suggesting that he is wasting his magical skills on people who will never understand them. The two magicians have been rivals for a very long time, and have been making their apprentices compete against one another for nearly as long. Hector’s previous apprentice forfeited the competition by setting herself on fire, but he has found a new and more promising competitor in his daughter, Celia Bowen. Hector’s daughter Celia came to him when she was five years old, after her mother committed suicide; he was unmoved by the suicide and the child he now had to take care of, until he realized that Celia had innate magical abilities that he could use in his competition against Mr. A.H. Hector retired from performing to train Celia, and then withdrew from public life when one of his magic tricks went horribly wrong, turning him into a ghost-like specter. He watches over the competition between Celia and Marco in Le Cirque des Rêves, inserting himself when they begin to collaborate, fearing that he will lose another round of competition with Mr. A.H. In the end, however, he loses his daughter, as she and Marco escape the competition by jumping into the central bonfire of the circus and trapping themselves inside to be together forever.

Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter Quotes in The Night Circus

The The Night Circus quotes below are all either spoken by Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter or refer to Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor edition of The Night Circus published in 2012.
Part 1: Primordium Quotes

“You might be interesting.”

Related Characters: Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter (speaker), Celia Bowen
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

“You would wager your own child?”

“She won’t lose.”

Related Characters: Alexander / Mr. A.H. (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter (speaker), Celia Bowen
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

“[…] with whom have you studied?”

“With my father, Hector Bowen. Though perhaps he is better known as Prospero the Enchanter.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Marco Alisdair (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Illumination Quotes

“Working with others will only drag you down. These people are not your friends, they are inconsequential. And one of them is your opponent, don’t forget that.”

Related Characters: Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter (speaker), Celia Bowen
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

“I spent the first several years of my life watching my mother pine for him, steadfastly. Loving and longing far beyond the time when he had lost what little interest in her he ever held. Until one day when I was five years old and she took her own life. When I was old enough to understand, I promised myself I would not suffer so for anyone. It will take a great deal more than that charming smile of yours to seduce me.”

Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Intersections Quotes

“Are you looking for this? It was made by a ring when I was fourteen. It said something in Latin, but I don’t know what it was.”

Esse quam videri. To be, rather than to seem. It’s the Bowen family motto. My father was very fond of engraving it on things. I’m not entirely sure he appreciated the irony.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Marco Alisdair (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter
Related Symbols: Rings
Page Number: 348
Explanation and Analysis:

“She will win. Do not try to avoid the fact that she is a stronger player than yours and has always been.”

Page Number: 383
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4: Incendiary Quotes

“You are willing to sacrifice me for this. To let me destroy myself just so you can attempt to prove a point. You tied me to this game knowing the stakes, and you let me think it was nothing but a simple challenge of skill.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter
Page Number: 397-398
Explanation and Analysis:

“You said there was a rule about interference.”

“Interfering with you or your opponent. I can interfere with anyone else as much as I please.”

“Your interfering got Friedrick killed!”

“There are other clockmakers in the world.”

Related Characters: Celia Bowen (speaker), Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter (speaker), Friedrick Thiessen
Page Number: 426
Explanation and Analysis:

“Our instructors do not understand how it is. To be bound to someone in such a way. They are too old, too out of touch with their emotions. They no longer remember what it is to live and breathe within the world. They think it simple to pit any two people against each other. It is never simple. The other person becomes how you define your life, how you define yourself.”

Page Number: 458
Explanation and Analysis:
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Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter Character Timeline in The Night Circus

The timeline below shows where the character Hector Bowen / Prospero the Enchanter appears in The Night Circus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Primordium
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...be interesting,” he says to her. A few months later, Prospero (whose real name is Hector Bowen) writes a letter to an old friend. (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
London, 1873: Hector and Celia meet with a mysterious man in a gray suit, whom Hector calls Alexander,... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
The two magicians then discuss details of the competition and decide on a venue. Hector mentions that he knows of a theatrical producer named Chandresh Lefevre who could organize something... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
...series of lessons in magic. Celia travels all over the United States and Europe with Hector for his magic shows, though he mainly abandons her in hotels or backstage. His lessons... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Hector Bowen has retired from the stage and has devoted himself full-time to training Celia and... (full context)
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Hector eventually decides to stay in New York rather than traveling with Celia, and he spends... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...New York, Celia Bowen is opening sympathy cards and flowers in memory of her father Hector, who has been announced dead of heart failure. There are letters mentioning his beautiful daughter,... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
...could be a lovely assistant. Celia simply mentions that she has studied with her father, Prospero the Enchanter , which impresses Chandresh enough to let her audition. She turns Marco’s notebook into a... (full context)
Part 2: Illumination
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Meanwhile, at the circus, Celia is standing in front of the Carousel when Hector appears to tell her that he does not like it at all. She disagrees, and... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Celia wants to know who her opponent is, but Hector insists that the opponent’s identity doesn’t matter. She responds that it matters to her, and... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...notices a movement in the hall and slips out unnoticed to speak to her father, Hector. He chides her for attending a social event, which he considers a misuse of her... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
...library, trying to guess what Celia was doing in there alone. He does not notice Hector watching him from the shadows. (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...voice telling her that this collaboration is abhorrent. She argues with him, and then asks Hector how a winner will be determined, and he tells her that it is not her... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
...a drink, and Celia considers it, wanting to discuss so many questions with him despite Hector’s warnings against it. But she turns him down, in part because she is drenched from... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
...to have worked as effectively on Celia, and she tells him about how her father, Hector, seduced her mother and then discarded her, letting her “pine for him” until she took... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Celia tells Marco that he reminds her of her father, Hector, who also manipulates perception. She tells him he doesn’t have to change his looks for... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...mentions that her father gave her a stern lecture about collaboration. Confused, Marco asks how Hector is able to communicate with her, and she explains that he is not really dead.... (full context)
Part 3: Intersections
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...he brings Chandresh another bottle of brandy. Alone, Chandresh is visited by the ghost of Prospero the Enchanter , an old friend of his, who fills his head with information that he otherwise... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
...competition, especially when she asks about how a winner will be chosen. She mentions that Hector still pesters her a lot, and Marco notes that he has hardly seen Mr. A.H.... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Marco asks Celia to explain what happened to Hector, and she explains that he is overambitious and wasn’t able to do what he had... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Hector still visits Celia, though he lacks solidity and it bothers him. Celia notes that he... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
...be, rather than to seem.” She notes the irony of the motto in light of Hector’s botched magic trick, and shows Marco her ring with the same inscription. She then moves... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...would be quite so effective. He is still in pain, however, and Celia says that Hector told her it’s best that they don’t concern themselves with one another, and admits that... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...out of the crowd and towards the gates of the circus, he is met by Hector Bowen, and he tells Hector that the venue is too exposed for the competition, and... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Mr. A.H. notes incredulously that perhaps Hector hasn’t noticed that Marco and Celia are in love, and that it only would have... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Hector says that it will not happen again, because she will win, because “she is a... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...door behind her and thanking Marco for showing her. Marco tells her that he presumes Hector would not approve, and she tells him that she doesn’t care what her father thinks... (full context)
Part 4: Incendiary
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...as she leaves Marco’s flat, and as soon as she is out in the hallway, Hector appears, calling her a “deceitful little slut.” He then asks her what she is doing... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Celia asks Hector if this is the point of the game, to see how each of the players... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...to put together the clues in her mind, thinking of all of the vague non-answers Hector has given her in the past, and finally realizes how the competition is supposed to... (full context)
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Love Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
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Celia asks what will happen to the circus after the competition is over, and Hector reminds her that it is simply a venue, and it serves no purpose after the... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...last longer than the competition, and Celia asks if the scar is from one of Hector’s rings. Tsukiko does not answer, asking Celia how her tea is. Celia asks why Tsukiko... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...The raven caws, and Celia addresses her father, who has shown up, hovering over her. Hector calls the notebook “a god-awful mess,” but Celia explains that it is just because he... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Hector replies that Celia is special, and well beyond the kind of magic that  Marco is... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
He mentions Chandresh, and Celia realizes that it was Hector who told him that Mr. A.H. would be at the circus the night Thiessen died.... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
Celia throws a volume of Shakespeare at Hector, and it goes right through him and hits the wall of the tent. She demands... (full context)
Part 5: Divination
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...patterns, and Mr. A.H. says he hopes she was a better teacher than her father, Hector. Widget responds that she and her father are very different people, from what he hears,... (full context)
Rivalry and Competition Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...Widget tells him that he knows Marco is not dead, just as he knows that Hector is not dead either, and is standing at the window near them. (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...many people notice that. Widget asks if Mr. A.H. is going to end up like Hector, and he responds that he hopes not—he would like to be able to accept the... (full context)
Family, Community, and Belonging Theme Icon
Time and Mortality Theme Icon
Magic and Illusion Theme Icon
Freedom and Agency Theme Icon
...to the circus, since he put them all at risk for a simple bet with Hector Bowen. Mr. A.H. acknowledges the validity of the argument, but says he owes Widget nothing.... (full context)